There's more than one way to do detention

23rd December 2011 at 00:00

"Detention: it's not trendy, but it works" (TESpro, 2 December) was an interesting article. Perhaps the crux of the issue was "What should I get pupils to do in detentions?" Tom Bennett's answer was "something 'orrible".

But for those students who have failed to do homework, why not insist that it is done? At least the child catches up on that piece of work and has not succeeded in avoiding the effort. If that is not a lesson well learnt, then what is?

For those who earn a detention for lateness, make them come to school early. For those who have missed previous detentions, double the penalty. Make them think about it during their detention.

Some students today have no lead from home; they have few role models in good behaviour and some possess bad "learned behaviour patterns". That is why I believe a more structured approach may help some. Not all, because that would be a utopia, but I think it is worth trying and it has proved to be successful with some in my care.

I give my students structured, reflective tasks. I give them a series of issues to think about, relating to subjects from manners to friendships, empathy, reputation, telling lies and truancy. They have to think about these points and weigh up the good and the bad because I demand two pages of handwritten discussion from them.

In almost every case, the results have been surprising, even from the younger students.

Is this pleasant? No. Is this easy? No. Do students like it? No. They challenge the requirement of two handwritten pages, but there is no negotiation and they usually achieve it, or more.

Almost all produce sensible, adult reasoning willingly, because it relates to them and their future. The one thing I am sure of is that they do think about their behaviour, which I submit is more productive than copying some random passage out of a book or writing 200 lines.

Geoff Dodd, Inclusion room supervisor, Chalfonts Community College, Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire.

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